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The New York artist Andres Serrano has awakened fresh controversy with his 1987 work "Piss Christ," which famously sparked a culture war in the US that led to the end of NEA grants to individual artists. Around 50 protesters gathered yesterday, 26 August, outside the Musée Fesch in Ajaccio, Corsica, to demand the immediate removal of the photograph from an exhibition of 120 works by the artist.

A member of the Catholic organization Cristiani Corsi told France TV Info that the protest aimed to have the work removed from the museum and returned to the Lambert Collection in Avignon, which co-organized the exhibition. “[Corsica] is soiled by the presence of this picture. It’s an insult to every Corsican,” he said.

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Wednesday, 19 February 2014 08:30

Protestor Destroys Ai Weiwei Vase in Miami

According to officials at the Pérez Art Museum Miami, on Sunday, February 16, a visitor smashed a vase from Ai Weiwei’s “Colored Vases” installation. The work, which is estimated to be worth $1 million, was destroyed by a local artist who was charged with criminal mischief and later released in lieu of bail. Maximo Caminero allegedly told a police officer that his act was a protest against the museum’s decision to exhibit only international art and its exclusion of local artists in its shows.

The Pérez Art Museum, which opened in December, released a statement saying, “As an art museum dedicated to celebrating modern and contemporary artists from within our community and around the world, we have the highest respect for freedom of expression, but this destructive act is vandalism and disrespectful to another artist and his work, to Pérez Art Museum Miami, and to our community."

Caminero claimed that he was inspired by one of Weiwei’s most famous works, “Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn,” a series of three photographs showing the contemporary Chinese artist dropping an ancient Chinese vase. Weiwei is no stranger to controversy and has openly criticized the Chinese government’s position on democracy and human rights.

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Pickpockets have always been most prevalent at locations that attract a high volume of tourists such as the Louvre. However, the pickpocketing problem at the French museum has gotten so severe that 200 members of the institution’s staff staged a walkout earlier this week in protest of the pickpocket gangs that target visitors. The museum reopened to the public on Thursday, April 11, 2013 with a squad of approximately 20 uniformed police officers patrolling the grounds.

The police officers were recruited in response to staff concerns. Many Louvre employees have endured violent altercations with pickpockets including being spat at, insulted, and hit. Many of the criminals return to the museum repeatedly after being barred from the premises. Museum officials hope that a strong police presence will deter pickpockets from setting up shop at the Louvre, which sees about 10 million visitors each year.

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Founded by Wal-Mart heiress, Alice Walton, in 2005, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas was the target of an email hoax that went public on Wednesday. The email stated that the museum would be closed on Black Friday to stand in solidarity with the Wal-Mart workers who are planning demonstrations over the Thanksgiving weekend. The email used fake quotes by Walton including one that said, “We have decided to stand with the workers of Wal-Mart, the source of my family’s fortune, in their Black Friday strikes, walkouts and pickets.” A spokesperson for the museum said that all information stated in the email is false and that the museum will be open on Friday.

The demonstrations held on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year, will allow Wal-Mart employees to voice their unhappiness with their powerhouse employer. Many claim that the retail giant enforces unfair labor practices and disregards workers’ requests for better pay, fair schedules, and affordable health care. It is widely known that Wal-Mart has been wary of a unionized workforce in the past.

The email hoax also stated that the Crystal Bridges Museum would host a temporary exhibition on labor in American art starting on Saturday, November 24. There is no such show expected to be on view at the museum.

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After a confrontation that lasted 10 months, staff members at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor and M.H. de Young museums agreed on a new contract with their employer, the Corporation of Fine Arts Museums (COFAM).

When COFAM and the Services Employees International Union (SEIU) began working to replace the contract that expired in October 2011, accusations of stubbornness, obstructionism, and disregard for the museums’ fiscal stability abounded on both sides.

Electricians, security guards, graphic artists, retail staff, and office administrators voiced their dissatisfaction with COFAM. The dispute peaked last May when Eric Mar, the San Francisco city supervisor who once served as a shop steward of the SEIU, wrote a piece for the San Francisco Examiner supporting the union, complaining about wage freezes, and arguing that the fact that COFAM requires workers to contribute to their own healthcare coverage was unfair. Another peak in the argument was reached this past August when many union members formally approved a strike. On September 7th, protestors gathered outside of the de Young during the museum’s popular event, “Friday Nights at the de Young Museum” catching the media’s attention.

Two weeks after the protest, COFAM stated that they reached a “tentative accord” with the union. The agreement provided 100 members with a 12 to 18 percent pay raise during the three years that their new contract is in effect. That raise is in addition to a three percent pay increase upon signing the new contract and another three percent raise on January 1, 2013.

While employee contribution to health care coverage was a huge point of contention in the dispute, most workers will still be required to make minimal payments. Employees will pay on a sliding scale that starts at $25 per month for employees, $50 for one dependent, and $75 for families.

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